AEA R92 Passive Studio Ribbon Mic
The Up-Close and Personal Ribbon
Building on the success of AEA’s acclaimed R84 ribbon microphone, Wes Dooley and AEA’s team of engineers set out to once again expand the sonic possibilities of ribbon microphones with the R92 model. Reduced proximity bass boost and excellent wind blast protection make it suitable for close miking of guitar and bass amps, drums, and vocals. At half the distance to the source, the R92 delivers a similar bass-to-treble balance as the R84. In addition, the integrated shockmount and swivel allow for easy setup and positioning in tight spaces. The smooth high frequency response of the R88 and R84 transducers has been further extended in the R92, making it a unique voice in the world of ribbon mics.
Two Voicings – Endless Possibilities
AEA has designed the R92 to have slightly different tones on the front and rear pickup lobes of the bidirectional microphone. The front lobe of the R92 is the “crisp” side, offering exceptionally clean and realistic high end detail. The rear lobe is the “smooth” side, which has a bit of classic ribbon high end roll-off reminiscent of the iconic 44 that can help to handle harsh transients in a very refined and flattering way. The bass reproduction of the R92 is very solid and extends to the lowest audible bass frequencies.
A Guitar Player’s Favorite
Like all figure-of-8 microphones the R44 or R84 ribbons are subject to proximity effect – the increase in bass as you move the microphone closer to the source. While this effect can be particularly flattering for singers and to create a “larger than life” sound, it can get too much and overpowering in some recording situations. The guitar players on our staff asked for a ribbon microphone that captured an authentic and balanced electric guitar tone when put right onto the grill of his Fender amp. Thanks to its purely passive signal path and Wes’ bag of acoustic tricks, the R92 not only handles the SPL levels of a high-gain amp with ease, but it also translates all the gritty details of the distortion that you’ve been tweaking so carefully.
– Same Big Ribbon, tuning, and transformer as the R44 series
– For closer applications and louder sources
– Compact design with different front and back tonality
– Versatile for close-up and ambient mic applications
– Particularly well suited for electric guitar, electric bass, and drums
Applications & Audio
Try using the R92 for a warm, clear vocal sound. The smooth character of the R92’s treble response means that it may be extensively shaped and processed without risk of nasty resonance artifacts.
Start with the singer positioned 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) away on axis from the microphone. The ribbon is well protected from damaging plosive blasts, but to avoid noises from wind blasts, we recommend using a pop filter.
If you are recording a musician who sings and plays an instrument at the same time, you can make use of the exceptional rejection offered by the 90º “null” planes of the bidirectional pickup pattern to reduce the pickup of the instrument in the vocal microphone.
You may want to start by positioning the singer 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) directly on axis from the microphone.
When recording a solo acoustic guitar a good starting point is to position the R92 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) away from the guitar roughly pointing at the bridge. This placement will capture clear midrange and pick articulation with a balanced low end.
As the bass response of the R92 is sensitive to the miking distance, try rotating the mic to use its excellent horizontal off-axis performance to find the “sweet spot”. Try pulling the microphone away from the guitar in increments of 1-2 inches (2-5 cm). Listen to the guitar up close, and when you find a spot that sounds good, try putting the R92 there. Let your ears be your guide.
To capture an authentic and balanced guitar tone with your R92, place the mic directly in front of the grill. Identify where the center of the speaker cone is located, and place the R92 a few inches (5-10 cm) away from the speaker. Pointing the mic at the grill center will deliver a very direct, “in-your-face” sound. This is the spot that will obtain the most high-frequency content. If it sounds too harsh, try moving the microphone to the side parallel to the speaker. You can also try positioning the R92 at an angle. You will find that small differences in positioning can make huge differences in the sound, so experiment until you find the spots you like. Close up, the R92 is very good at spotlighting a speaker’s unique sounds at various cone locations.
When using multiple microphones on a guitar cabinet at once and mixing them to create a particular sound, it is important to pay attention to the phase relationship between the different signals. Try to position the different microphones as close to each other as possible, to avoid phase problems caused by sound arriving at the microphones at slightly different path lengths. Make sure to listen to the combined signal summed to mono to catch potential comb filtering that could be caused by out-of-phase signals. If you are recording with the back lobe of the R92, it is important to use reverse the polarity on the preamp or DAW.
For a more natural sound that captures the sound of the amp in your room, try moving the microphone back a couple of feet.
Brass & Woodwinds
The R92’s warm and detailed characteristics make it a great focus mic for brass and woodwinds. Soprano saxophone, trumpet and most high-pitched brass and woodwind instruments are known to have “edgier” or “brilliant” frequency characteristics. The R92’s smooth treble response on the back lobe is great at preserving without aggravating these striking tonal qualities.
Depending on the instrument’s dynamic range, we recommend starting by positioning the R92 8-16 inches (20-41 cm) away from the source. For a focused sound, use the swivel mount (not the mic stand) to point the microphone on axis towards the bell or preferred tone holes.
If you are concerned about wind blasts, use a pop filter, or position the microphone slightly off axis.
Drums & Percussion
The R92 excels at close and medium miking of drums and percussion. A common use for the R92 is on kick drum. While it is never recommended to put a ribbon mic inside or in front of the kick drum port, positioning the mic a few inches away from the resonant head angled slightly down can capture a very natural sound. Make sure that you don’t feel an air blast on axis to the microphone.
Engineers also love this mic on toms. The R92 excels both at capturing huge low end and upper midrange. A common technique is to angle the R92 so that it picks up the floor tom, but position it in a way that the ride cymbal is in the null. It can produce a huge thud that is very natural.